Biological ion channels intelligently controlling ions across cell membranes serve as a big source of bio-inspiration for the scientists to build bio-inspired smart solid-state nanopores and nanochannels with practical applications. In this review, we mainly focus on fabrication and application of the bio-inspired smart solid-state nanopores and nanochannels. At the beginning, we introduce the nature-inspired strategy for developing bio-inspired smart solid-state nanopores and nanochannels. In the following, specific emphasis is put on recent advances in nanotechnologies and methods for fabrication and modification of the synthetic nanopores/nanochannels. Meanwhile, the fundamental understandings of the smart ion transport properties including ionic selectivity, ionic gating, and ionic rectification inside these artificial functional nanopores and nanochannels are discussed in detail. Moreover, the focuses are placed on practical applications of the bio-inspired smart nanopore and nanochannel materials in molecular filters, biosensors, nanofluidic logic devices, and energy conversions. Finally, some perspectives are provided for future developments and directions of this fantastic research field. (C) 2015 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.